Fitzpatricks Real Estate prioritises the ongoing support of our clients and community throughout this challenging time. In response to COVID-19, we have seen some changes to the real estate landscape and wish to help shed some light on questions that tenants, landlords and community members may have.
Please review the below series of frequently asked questions to help you make informed property related queries and to stay informed of how these may affect your decisions.
If at any time you would like to speak to a professional, please contact your Tenancy Manager via phone or email. Our office is still reachable via normal methods but with social distancing measure in place.
Please remember that the following rules must be adhered to:
• Social distancing of at least 1.5 metres
• One person inspecting the property at a time (with the Tenancy Manager)
• Persons inspecting the property must refrain from touching any surfaces
Are there any changes to my rights as a tenant or landlord?
Tenants and Landlords are to abide by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. However, there may be measures set in place by State and Federal Governments in relation to your tenancy and your rights.
Should you wish to keep up to date on potential changes, we suggest that you refer to https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/about-fair-trading/legislation-and-publications/changes-to-legislation
Am I able to inspect a property?
We have changed our process for those seeking to rent a property with Fitzpatricks Real Estate.
Potential tenants are able to take video walk-throughs of the property which are being uploaded by our Property Management team. If the potential tenant likes the property, they may submit an application. Landlords will be contacted with potential tenants for pre-approval. Those who are pre-approved will be offered a private inspection of the property to ensure it is suited to their needs.
Please use the ‘Book Inspection’ button on our website should you wish to inspect the property via video, and a Tenancy Manager will contact you with a video link.
Private inspections for pre-approved tenants are being carried out with the social distancing measures aforementioned.
Our team of friendly Tenancy Managers will ask the following questions should you look to book a private inspection:
• Do you have any symptoms or have you tested positive with the Coronavirus?
• Have you been in contact with anyone who is diagnosed or showing symptoms of Coronavirus?
• Have you recently traveled overseas and been subject to self-isolation?
Are routine inspections taking place?
Our office has postponed any face to face routine inspections that were due to be carried out. To ensure that rental properties are remaining cared for and safe for our tenants, we are conducting inspections via video methods, with our Tenancy Managers able to facilitate this through Facebook Messenger appointments.
Should we need to inspect the property via video methods, your Tenancy Manager will be in touch.
If you are not at the property, please let your Tenancy Manager know if it is safe to attend the inspection without you present.
What happens if I need maintenance completed at my house?
If you require any maintenance please contact your Tenancy Manager and they will organise for a tradesperson to attend your property. There are currently no restrictions on tradespeople entering properties, except for the number of tradespeople allowed in the same space at any one time in line with social distancing guidelines.
You can submit your maintenance requests via our online form found at https://www.fitzpatricks.com.au/repairs/ or email your Tenancy Manager directly.
Evictions, rent reductions or rent deferments
The New South Wales Government has implemented an interim 60 day stop on evictions for rental arrears as of the 15th of April only if the tenant is facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The Landlord and Tenant will be required to enter in to negotiations if a 25% reduction of weekly household income has occurred for the Tenant after all government assistance payments are taken into consideration.
Things taken in to consideration during this time include
• Loss of employment or income as a direct result of COVID-19
• A reduction in work hours as a result of COVID-19
• A stop or reduction in work or materially due to a persons illness, or a member of the households illness with COVID-19
• A carers responsibilities with a family member ill with COVID-19
Landlors will still be required to follow the processes laid out in the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. Tenants cannot be evicted without an order from the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), and only the Sheriff can physically remove a tenant.
If a tenant is facing financial difficulties, and especially if they think they will fall into arrears, tenants should initiate negotiations with their Agent to reduce the rent. A failure in negotiations can be taken up with NSW Fair Trading, and if a suitable outcome is not achieved, it can continue to NCAT.
There are currently no changes to existing laws should a person wish to terminate your lease agreement for other reasons including rent arrears if there is no COVID-19 cause.
Find more detailed information on your rights and changes during this crisis at https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/publications/coronavirus-covid-19 and https://www.reinsw.com.au/Web/Posts/Latest_News/2020/04_April/Terminating%20tenancies%20during%20the%20COVID-19%20pandemic.aspx
Any advice contained in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, needs or financial position of any particular person(s). Before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regard to those matters. Information in this article is correct as of the date of publication and is subject to change without notice.